Last Monday, feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, our dear departed Mother Rosaria celebrated her nameday by obtaining for us some much needed rain. She had been an avid gardener in her day, so must have seen the dryness of our soil and said something to whatever angel is in charge of Barhamsville weather. It has been raining on and off ever since. The precipitation stopped long enough on Tuesday, however, for the novitiate to harvest kale, first fruits of our fall gardening efforts.
I had heard that fall gardening was a delightful adventure free of the summertime plagues of weeds and bugs. While I am far from denying that it has been a delightful adventure, I must say that there are fewer weeds, but just as many bugs—at least on the kale. In fact, it seems that most of the vegetarian insects find their home on kale. The ants are herding literally hundreds of aphids on the undersides of the leaves. I suppose that they are providing lots of wonderful honeydew for the milking ants. Cabbage worms live out their life cycles from egg to pupa while they chew a Swiss cheese design alongside the sucking aphids. Meanwhile, the word is getting around to the carnivorous spiders and ladybugs that a meal awaits them on the Poor Clare kale crop.
Theoretically, it probably would do us little harm to eat a few bugs along with our kale, but…well…we just somehow prefer to get our protein in another form. So, after picking, we set up large laundry tubs full of water outside the garage to try to wash off the unwelcome protein. A question arose as to whether we should save leaves with many holes in them. One clever postulant said, “We are in a monastery; we eat holey things!” Very nice pun! But then I began to think. What is a hole? An empty space. What does it mean to be holey? To have lots of empty space. And what does it mean to be holy (note the absence of the e)? To be like Jesus who “emptied Himself” as
Paul says in his letter to the Philippians. And in the
2nd reading today at Holy Mass, St. Paul again tells us that “if we have died
with Him, we shall also reign with Him”.
So the emptiness is destined to be filled with glory: filled with the utter fullness which is
God! All the troubles and trials of this
life, the bugs, as it were, empty us of our selfishness, pride, sin so
that we can receive well the love of Jesus.
It is a worthwhile exchange. But
always we must remind ourselves of “the joy which is set before” us so that we,
like Jesus, can “endure the cross (or the bug), heedless of its shame.” Becoming holey is no fun, but it is
only a necessary step along the way.